Daisy’s Story: Dreaming of a Purple House with Chickens

Meet Daisy, a part-time lecturer and breastfeeding peer counselor, living in San Francisco with her 5-year old daughter.

What do you do for a living?

I currently have two jobs and might pick up a third. I lecture a weekly class at San Francisco State University and I also have a part-time job as a breastfeeding peer counselor at the Women, Infants, & Children (WIC), where I work 20 hours a week. Additionally, I’m trying to take up substituting when I’m not watching my daughter to make ends meet.

What did your upbringing teach you about finances?

My mom had a mindset of save, save, save. However, she didn’t really give us the tools to save and we never actually saw the money – it was behind closed doors. I never knew how much we needed in order to get by. There was a lot of restraint for extracurricular activities, too. I also knew my mom was against credit cards.

When I went to college, my family couldn’t help me out financially. There was essentially no family contribution. I didn’t know what to do. My peers told me, “Don’t worry, you can get a loan.” At the time, I didn’t know the language behind what a loan was. I was the first in my family to get a higher education degree, so I felt like I couldn’t turn to anyone in my family about money for school. We never had those conversations about money.

I applied for my first credit card as an undergraduate. In college, I was more able to manage my credit card because I would never charge my card unless I could pay for things in full. Things changed after I got my master’s degree during the ’08-’09 recession and I had to rely more on my credit card.

Any advice for people looking to be responsible with credit cards?

A while back, I went to get a car when I was unemployed and trying to make it in Los Angeles. What I noticed is that credit is really important for things like this. My good credit score gave me the autonomy to go in and confidently purchase a car. At the same time, my older brother was trying to get a car. But because he had no credit history, he couldn’t get one. I told him he needs build credit to prove to credit companies that he can pay for things.

Credit cards are the pathway to bigger credit. Make sure you have a credit limit AND a personal limit. I feel more at ease when I can pay it off easily.

Curly haired woman with a septum nose ring takes a selfie with her daughter

What are your lowest and highest financial points?

The worst was when I left my daughter’s father. I had no housing. I was unemployed and I carried with me $40,000 student debt from graduate and undergraduate school. Luckily, I had a trusted friend hold some of my savings since my relationship began to show red flags. The cushion allowed me to make the move with my 18 month old at the time

The highest, unfortunately does not seem long lived. But I do try to focus on the short term goals met. I have above a 700 point credit score. I paid off two student loans and now focusing on my third private loan. I have two months of living expenses in my savings and hopefully I can make it three months.

What’s the best piece of financial advice you’ve applied to your life?

“Smart Money Coaching” in San Francisco is a good resource. I was introduced to it at my old job.

Tracking my finances has become really big for me. Now, before I splurge, I log into my bank account and look at what I need to pay off and what I have left. This has really helped me lately. I pause and ask myself, “Do you really need this right now? Can you afford this right now?” It stops me from getting into more debt. Reminding myself about longer term goals has been really helpful in terms of budgeting.

What are your short-term savings goals?

I want to see my private student loan disappear and narrow my student loans down to two.

I also just want to have one job to cover the bills as opposed to having multiple like I do now. It’ll be easier when it comes to my daughter’s care demands as well as affording to pay rent from one stream of income.

What are your goals for the future?

I’d like to own a house. My daughter and I dream of having a purple house with room for chickens in the backyard. We could have fresh eggs. That’s the goal that I strive for.

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